Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stuff White People Do: The Interview

You'll have to forgive me for sounding a bit like a high school student on summer assignment thru out this interview.    Macon of anti-racist blog Stuff White People Do (currently on hiatus), was so gracious to agree to be one of my first subjects, and then  ended up becoming my VERY first.  I'm glad it turned out this way.

As I've said here before, I credit SWPD with helping me come to a place emotionally where I finally realized that the seemingly far-flung aspects of my identity were in fact intersected as a survivor of domestic violence, sexual and physical assault and rape.  Namely, that race was NOT the least of my problems, as I had been given to believe, and that I actually HAVE experienced racism and even collaborated with racism during the course of my life.  Before this epiphany, I had believed that my being black was simply incidental to my identity... and that being trans was far more oppressive for me than anything else I'd ever been thru.  In short, SWPD snapped me out of my denial.

My views have since evolved a great deal and now I plainly see the intersection of race with other oppressions and privileges everywhere.  This has been as liberating as it has been daunting. 

SWPD is certainly not the only anti-racist blog online.  However,  I found it unique in that it openly invited white people to discuss race and anlayze their own white privilege, to be VULNERABLE in these difficult discussions and just deal with that.  And with the help of the commenting forums, unambiguously held white people accountable for their participation in White Supremacy, unwitting or no.  It was a refreshing change of pace from the allegedly"I don't even see race" whitefolks who make an effort to say only the "right" things and are given a pass for their condescension because hey... at least they're trying right?   I never encountered such a forum that openly confronted white people and DIDN'T degenerate into hysterics and derail.   Not that it wasn't inclined to happen at SWPD, but because the forum culture was committed to not letting that happen.  I was intrigued.

What intrigues me most about SWPD was that it speaks to the importance of analyzing, rather than simply calling out,  the covert and "unintentional" types of racism we take for granted from others everyday.  It also forced me to call out the ways in which I had internalized and normalized racism in my own life.   I figured if this could be done with racism..., this could be done with all other oppressions.... and boy do I have a long list to sort thru....

Anyway. I am honored to have Macon as my first official interview.   Thank you, sir, for all the complicated healing issues you have raised for me. 

Jane: When you first started Stuff White People Do, what was your original vision for the blog? Did you intend for it to become the high traffic site it eventually became?

Macon:  My original vision was just a list of what I’ve come to call “common white tendencies,” and a place to write them down whenever they occurred to me. A blog seemed like a place to do that in a more public way, which seemed good because some white people might read it and think more about their own whiteness-induced tendencies. I was also inspired by the format, and in a dissatisfied way by the content, of Stuff White People Like. Like Peggy McIntosh has said about her famous article on white privilege, I wanted to write down, but also expand upon in whatever illustrative, convincing detail I could, such white tendencies (which differ from “privileges”).

I wanted these tendencies clarified so I myself could stop doing them. I also thought, and still do, that simply getting more white people to realize that their racial membership within an ongoing and abusive hierarchy is a way of challenging the effects on POC of that hierarchy.

So my initial target audience was white people—I thought I was writing about things that most POC already know. I didn’t feel that as a white person, I should try to teach POC anything about the topic, and especially about racism. Over the past two years or so, I’ve seen that the blog’s information, written by me and by others, sometimes helps POC deal better with white people. POC have also written that because this or that post pinned down and explained an example of racism, it confirmed for them that they’re “not crazy,” or that “it’s not just me that sees that, and sees it as racist,” or that what they suspected was racism really was that, and not what the some-other-thing that society at large claimed it was instead.

In terms of traffic, I didn’t have any particular goal in mind, and still don’t. Seeing the audience grow into a fairly large, engaged, and varied one has of course been gratifying, and I think that all of that input, including a lot of guest posts, has made it a more useful blog. Gradually, though, it occurred to me at times that without me realizing it, my efforts probably caused harm as well, especially if some white readers were doing little more with the blog’s information than patting themselves on the back, because they’d ingested a daily antiracism vitamin (which I guess would mean that in those cases, the posts are actually placebos instead).

What do you value most about SWPD? What are its biggest rewards and/or challenges for you?

I hope I’ve encouraged some other white people to look at their whitened selves, and ways. I’ve especially valued the blog’s audience, and I appreciate the various values that they, or most of them, have seemed to find in it. I hope the blog’s overall effect has worked against racism.

I’ve learned a lot about my own white/whitened self, and about white supremacy more generally. Personally, I’ve also valued the pressure that maintaining the blog put on me to think through various racism-related issues and problems. Writing is a concentrated form of thinking for me, and the blog helped me clarify apparently antiracist concepts and strategies and then articulate them better in other contexts.

The biggest early challenge early on was responding to commenters who challenged the posts. Not the overtly racist ones, but the antiracist ones, who basically pointing out that although I was writing in an attempted antiracist mode, I myself was sometimes being racist, in ways that I couldn’t see yet. I’ve since learned of the common white tendency that I was enacting there, and no doubt still enact, that of defending what I’ve said, digging in my heels almost as a matter of principle, and failing to see just how much I was still stuck in my own perspective, and just not listening well enough.

As the audience grew, my biggest challenge in the comment sections became moderating the comments effectively—screening them, that is, for racism and for derailment, moderating disputes among commenters, and dealing with commenters who dismissed the entire blog and tried to get other to readers/commenters to leave it.

Which blogs do you follow/have you followed closely? Why these?

In no particular order (and I’m sure I’m missing some—I keep up with about 75 blogs in my reader):

Womanist Musings, because Renee is so insightful, inspiringly dedicated, and often entertaining as well.

Sociological Images, for its concrete examples of racist phenomena and ephemera.

Racism Review, for the access it provides to hard data related to racism.

Racialicious, for its consistently useful posting choices and its insightful and generous commenting community.

Abagond, because his work is so varied and insightful, yet succinct.

Unapologetic Mexican, especially for “News with Nezua,” because he does that so well on all levels, and because he teaches me something every time.

We Are Respectable Negroes, because I learn a lot there, and I often get to laugh as I learn.

I also regularly read (although it’s technically not a blog) Counterpunch, and for political comic-relief, Dependable Renegade.

Obligatory POC skeptic question: As a White guy who doesn't have to deal with racism if he doesn't want to... what's in it for you? Why do YOU care, specifically? Why should we trust you?

Since I’m white, I don’t think that POC necessarily should trust me. I hope they are skeptical. I know—though I suspect not as well as many POC do—that I still have, and enact, various racist tendencies and habits. Consequently, though I don’t directly say so on the blog, I would encourage POC to remain skeptical of whatever I have to say. So far, I don’t say so because (1) the blog is about stuff white people do, not stuff POC do, and (2) it seems condescending or something for me to say so—it goes against my belief that POC already tend to be skeptical about me as a white person, because experience has taught them to know as well or better than I do why such skepticism is warranted.

What’s in it for me? Some resolution for an internal conflict that I continuously feel. Not to get too abstract about it, but that internal conflict is a battle between something like my sense of justice and morality (to which I attribute my unease and outrage over racial injustice, including the unearned benefits it’s bestowed upon me), and something like another side of me that’s been told it’s okay to relax and enjoy life, including the unearned benefits handed to me by the random details of my birth, my upbringing, and my current circumstances. The world around me encourages that latter side. For me, it used to be a struggle to keep the other side awake, and active, which is of course a side-effect, and a pathological one, of privilege. Because I try to listen to and nourish my moral conscience (rather than do what I’m “supposed to do,” which is to repress it), I feel compelled to not only become and remain more vigilant and aware of racial injustice, but also to do something against it. I think that to the extent I don’t do that, I’m psychologically and emotionally deformed, and underdeveloped.

Anyway, I don’t know what else to say about why POC should trust an anonymous white blogger. I would hope that consistently convincing work over an extended period of time would alleviate some mistrust. But then, I can’t convince everyone that what I do on the blog is effective work.

How important to you is an intersectional approach to anti-racism?

It is very important, but too often, it’s important to me in a merely abstract way. As a white, cisgendered, middle-class, able-bodied, U.S.-citizened male, intersectionality, I continue to function with less awareness of intersectionality than I know I should. Thanks to my occupancy in a lot of privileged categories, and to my intense focus on white supremacy, intersectionality is something that I continually need to remind myself to attend to. I know it’s important, but I don’t yet feel enough that it’s important, and so I don’t enact it enough. I know that my blog posts, like my daily actions in general, don’t register well enough the significance of other categorical influences, and phenomena, and injustices brought about by other significant categories.

At the same time, because the blog’s focus has been de facto white supremacy, especially as manifested in common white tendencies, I think that attending too much to other categorical factors could water down that focus, and/or distract from it. Not that there’s any real danger of “too much,” though, since as I said, I know that my approach is not well-attuned to intersectionality. I suppose I hope that readers can fine tune this or that observation about white supremacy in accordance to other categories they find significant as they read, but even there, I think that’s more of an excuse than a solid justification.

How effective do you think blogging is, as anti-racist activism?

In quantitative terms, I simply don’t know, and I don’t know how that could be measured. I obviously think it can do some good, since my goals in doing it are not purely selfish. It’s another way of getting useful information out, information that can cause people to act—or, I hope, in the case of the white people who read my blog, to learn that they may well do some egregious, racist stuff, and stop doing it.

In terms of effectiveness, I’m inclined to be a patient person—another result, another symptom, of privilege. I’m certainly not saying that I think anyone else should be more patient! And I do feel an impatient, frustrated rage about injustices caused by white supremacy and its enactors. But I also know that white supremacy can’t be brought down overnight, nor by one person, and that if any progress has been made, that didn’t happen quickly either. It’s a long term struggle, of course, and I feel hopeful that many swpd readers use information from the posts and comment sections to prevent various forms of racism from happening in their own lives. Actually, I’ve seen that happen, and I’ve heard about it happening too—people write emails to me about it, and sometimes guest posts on the blog.

I do think blogging is effective antiracist activism in my own life; because I’ve clarified various racist tendencies and actions of my own by writing them out for the blog, I don’t do them anymore. That doesn’t mean I and various elements of my life are no longer racist, but it does mean that what I do in the world is less racist. And I hope that’s true for some white readers as well.

Why did you put  SWPD on hiatus?

Mostly because the energy and time it took was detracting too much from other areas of my life—from other forms of activism, as well as my personal life and my day job. Moderating comments had also become a problem that I wanted to step back from, so I can reassess how I was doing it.

After moderating comments for about two years, I still wasn’t doing it effectively. Basically, I was still failing to see some forms of derailment, and of hurtful negligence and insult toward some of the commenters, and I hope that stopping will give me a chance to develop better radar. Some of the commenters I considered most valuable were apparently driven away, or sometimes driven into exasperated frustration, by my moderation practices, and some valuable commenters were also driven away by other valuable commenters. I hope I can figure out how to better prevent such things from happening.

I also want to get rejuvenated. I did consider posting less often and reading through the moderated comments even more slowly than I was, instead of taking a break, but I also felt some burnout coming on. White supremacy doesn’t take a break, of course, and I’m continuing to fight it in other ways, but I’m hoping that stepping back will renew, and also reshape, the particular passion that I’ve had for blogging, so I can do it all better than I was doing it before.

Ever coming back?

I hope so! And I’m planning to, but I don’t know when yet, mostly because I don’t know when my other work is going to settle down, and I don’t know yet if the energy and time that blogging took from my other antiracism efforts is worth devoting to it.

Which other social causes are you passionate about besides anti-racism?

The usual suspects for someone (maybe someone white, and mlddle class, and so on?) who identifies as left of “liberal,” but especially raising awareness of, and trying to inspire action against, gendered abuse and injustice. I’m also incensed by the general oblivion in the U.S. about the fact that it’s a militant empire, a resource-stealing, murderous one. Also, the sad, disgusting, and dangerous realities the corporatized, industrial food that most of us in the U.S. eat, as well as the part that our food choices play in the lack of food and health for others in the world.

Who are your personal anti-racist role models?

I have disagreements with some of them, and I’m sure I’m neglecting some others, but those who come to mind first include Robert Jensen, James Baldwin, David Roediger, Elaine Kim, damali ayo, Adrian Piper, Toni Morrison, Ronald Takaki, Tim Wise, Lillian Smith, Renee Martin, Paul Mooney, Karen Brodkin and Thandeka. As I look at that list, I think “heroes” is a better term than “role models.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Good Intentions and the road to...

One generally shouldn't initiate a slammingdoor fight with one's fiance the night before one's official anniversary/ birthday.  Especially after he has baked a cake from scratch, made you a delicious salmon dinner, rubbed your shoulders, sat with you thru a sappy chick flick (Corrina Corrina),  and in general tried his best to please you all week in preparation for the big day.   But where would I be in life without my emotional rollercoasters???  Where would I go??

My inability to be straightforward about my emotional needs in the moment is starting to take its toll on the both of us.  It seems no matter how I try to explain that when I get home from work, my priority is to 1) decompress from the physical pain i've been in 2) decompress from the anxiety/triggering 3) sloooooooow waaaay the fuck doooooown and not be stimulated,  not to move or be moved... we just clash.  Time and again.

This is alot to ask everyday of a man who has ADD, is extremely gregarious and social, and genuinely adores my company and gets excited to see me.  I mean constitutionally I know I'm asking more than he can give me. When he needs affection, I need isolation.  When he needs conversation I need silence.  When he needs stimulation and a change of pace I need boring routine and zero surprises and no new decisions to make.  This is not a recipe for success.

And I feel profoundly guilty. I think back to the spontaneous, active person I used to be before PTSD and crotch pain began to rule my every waking moment.

allow me to join everybody in commemorating the 9th anniversary for 9/11 for a sec.  Everybody in the US of A remembers what they were doing THAT DAY, when they first heard, how they felt.  What they had planned to do until.  So here's me:

For three weeks I had been looking forward to going out with Danny, a guy I was dating at the time but only rarely got to see due to our competing escort schedules.  Dating is a strong word for it tho.  He was one of several guys I had chosen serially to hook up with for no other reason than he was mindblowingly hot.  He was a part-time porn actor, escort and male stripper in Montrose, which if you didn't already know, is the famously gay nightclub district of Houston.  Most of the guys I singled out for "dating" were strippers, male escorts, or porn actors or bartenders and bouncers at the local gay bars trying to break into any one of the gigs above..   People think that these guys are all gay.  In fact most guys in the sex industry, like most guys on the planet, are pretty much straight.  But heteroflexibility is a prerequisite.  Being an escort, I was privy to my male peers in a way most people aren't.  It's a pretty incestuous crowd  If you're not "in the scene" it's hard to relate to people who aren't.  So, like any work place, you're most likely to date the people you spend the most time around.

My selection of "mates" was entirely utilitarian.  I made a point never to get with anybody I had ever worked with...cuz that would just be weird and sad.  My thinking was that since I had slept with and performed various erotic acts with men I in no way found attractive for a LIVING...I had to make damn sure that I was sleeping with the hottest guys I could get my hands on... in my LEISURE time.   You can imagine the dysfunction and cumulative damage to one's psyche and sexuality one incurs from such a mindset.    But  at the time I resented that the vast majority of my sexual history occurred in the context of sex work, with men who did nothing for me, other than pay me. Quitting that gig wasn't an option, but  I had to do SOMETHING to get those  "dirty old man" cooties out of the old bat cave, yanno???  I mean.. THAT makes sense right... fight fire with fire yeah??

Um. Yeah.

Most of the time sex with these hot guys  was less than stellar...  many if not most were doing the exact same thing as I was... sleeping with somebody they actually found attractive to make up for all the creepy guys who paid them to dance, hump, pose or whatever.   I didn't particularly care one way or another if the sex was any  GOOD or not.. I just wanted it to be with somebody who I would have done it with for FREE.

Danny happened to be one such guy I was seeing at the time. And sex with him was better than good.  It was... like being rescued from a burning building.  It was straight up action adventure. It was breathtaking. I relied on him much more than I knew I should. 

He was in fact the first one to call me that day.  I remember it was 7amish when the phone rang.  I saw the caller ID.  Thought...  FUCK.  He's calling me to back out on our date tonight. He had a terrible habit of standing me up at the last minute.  Then showing up out of nowhere on some other day when I wasn't planning on seeing anyone.  But this was on my fucking birthday no less. . And he's waking me up to do it??  I snatched up the receiver prepared to give him hell ....  but when he said my name it was clear he was crying or something.  I ask him what's wrong he just says "Go turn on the news.  Get up and do it right now!"

Annoyed and alarmed all at once, I stumble blindly  to the living room, turn on the TV... just in time to see the first tower crumbling.  I had no idea what I was even looking at, I didn't have my contacts on and it seemed like a movie or video footage of a demolition or something.   It took me quite a bit to process what was actually happening and where.  By the time I realized that two planes had been flown into the World Trade Center all I could think was.. "Oh.  Well. Huh. Look at that."

I hear so many stories about 9/11 and people's first reaction and I figure they've got to be laying it on a little thick.  People claiming to have fallen to their knees in shock or horror.  People who I know have no relationship to New York whatsoever, mind you.  But for me,  it wasn't shock or surprise. It was... "Wow it's finally happened." 

I wasn't angry. I wasn't scared. I felt only this surreal sense of the whole country shifting immediately into a new paradigm.  Bombings, terrorist attacks.  That was something that happened in another place.  We only bomb our own. We only kill our own...  No country had ever "laid hands" on us like this.  But somehow without ever having thought about it before, I KNEW that one day they would.  And from that point on we would have to deal with the rest of the world as peers in a way we never had to before.

But I digress. Yeah yeah the World Trade Center, big tragedy.  Thousands of people dying horribly, planes hijacked, people leaping to their deaths blah blah.  The real tragedy?  Danny was going to stand me up!!!  He was far too upset by all this to keep a lousy date!  He had family in NYC and needed to know if they were alright. This was terrible!!  Who would get the cooties off of me after I had just spent a whole day and night with the Adult Baby Banana Pooping Guy???  I had been looking forward to Danny for weeks!

And Danny proceeded to do just that..."I don't know if I can make it tonight... I'm sorry..." 

"Danny! Don't be ridiculous of course we can't go out...  Forget about us... You can't be alone like this.  I'm coming over right away..."

And that was how I pulled it off.  I went and spent the rest of the day playing the supporting actress role of my life.  I consoled and comforted Danny.  I held his hand while he called NYC.   I took him for a long walk to clear his head.  We stopped and talked to complete strangers about the attacks, we walked hand in hand in the park.  I listened intently to him talk about having served in the Gulf War (the first one, at that time). I swooned with girlish pride in his patriotism.  People on the street treated us as a young couple in love, sharing in the solemnity of the national tragedy of that day.  Everybody in Houston was eerily subdued.  Houston is NOT a quiet city. It is not a polite city.  It is not easily fazed.  But that day, everywhere we went, everyone we talked to seemed to be on the same page...  "I can't believe it. I just can't believe it." 

I felt like a fraud.  "Oh me either.. it's so shocking!"  But I was lying. I wasn't shocked.  I didn't really feel anything one way or another.. and my BEST FRIEND lived in new york.  She called and said she could see the smoke from Brooklyn.  She was alright tho.  That was really the extent of my emotional engagement in what happened and I felt like a terrorist myself... shouldn't I be more upset?  Why is everyone taking it so hard?  I mean, we hear about people getting bombed in the Middle East all the time. Palestine. Israel. Wars in Africa.  It all felt the same to me.  Brutal but distant and unsurprising to me.  "This must be the beginning of the end."  Danny said.  I had no idea what he meant but I agreed.

All of this to get laid.  I remember thinking I must be getting carried away when one elderly couple stopped us outside of a cafe in Montrose, their eyes glowing with the same stunned sadness.   "How long have you two been together?"   Danny looked at me like huh?? What are they saying.   "I can tell youre very much in love" the lady said.  "Just beautiful," the gentleman said.  They told us to take care of ourselves.  

I felt awkward, embarrassed.  Like I had been caught stealing something and was being praised for my finesse. I knew I was taking advantage of Danny, but I was living for this moment.  Acceptance. Walking the streets in daytime, with a  MAN... an attractive MAN.. a manly, ex-army masculine archetype of a man...... being seen as straight, and NOT a transsexual, and NOT a hooker.  . Being seen as beautiful.  And not in the hey look at that gnarly old dude with that hot black chick *nudge nudge wink * sense I was used to...   NO we were an attractive, normal male and female couple. Not two creatures of the night conspiring debauchery or selling sin.   Nobody was staring at me as the girl who looks like she's a model or in porn or something,  not as the high class call girl,  not my USUAL public persona.  I was just another woman out with her boyfriend.  Her HOT boyfriend. In love. Being loved.   It was all an illusion.. but I needed it.  I needed to know these things were possible for me to have, even if only in the most superficial sense... and I was willing to be a total fake to get it.

So I got superlaid that night, just like I wanted.  But Danny never returned my calls after that.  He had caught on to the way I had been hamming it up and I guess it squicked him.  Rightly so.  I can't say that I mourned losing him.  There was always another pretty face.  But I hated the way I had been "caught" wanting something so badly.  I lived life in such a way as to appear that I was above such things...Fitting in.  The approval of society as a straight, non-transsexual woman.  Who needs social acceptance, when you have beauty?   I even acted like I could care less that people found me beautiful or not.. when in fact I spent every waking moment on some aspect of my appearance, and to go thru a day not hearing how lovely I looked from at least one random stranger was to spend a sleepless night wondering what I did wrong.

You would never know any of that by looking at me today.  And neither would Mr. Laplain. 180 degrees.  I can't be bothered to care how I look.  I can't be bothered to show affection, or go for long walks in the park, or shave my fucking legs, or be seen out and about with my man,  a beautiful young couple in love.  I am no longer young. I am no longer beautfiul, except in  his eyes.  And he is still so beautiful in mine.  But I can't seem to show it. I can't say it except behind his back.  I can't accept his love..I can't even feign the illusion of being kind and loving anymore, altho it was my JOB for 3 years.   I can't be spontaneous, can't just up and spend the whole day milling about the town, exploring, experiencing.  I can't participate in LIFE  at anything near the level that I used to anynmore.

And that fills me with sadness, shame, rage.. and so many other heavy hearted things. I feel like I found the man of my dreams, the REAL love  I've been waiting for my whole life.. but  I found him too late. And there is nobody to take out my anger on but HIM.  And he doesn't deserve this. He asks for so little and I can't even give that.

Today is officially our one year anniversary.  Our first date was at the hospital.  And our second.  And our fourth. (Mr. Laplain lives with a congenital illness which unfortunately requires hospitalization from time to time). We have never been to a movie together.  We have never been to a restaurant that wasn't a hole in the wall take out joint.  I am determined to do those two things for him today.  I have planned this for a month.  I am in alot of pain physically.  I do NOT want to move out of this chair, let alone this apartment. But I need to show him that I want more for him than somebody who can only come home, collapse in a chair and weep.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Request For Feedback

Hey all... seems like I'm getting several copies of comments mysteriously. Especially ones that are anonymous.    I just tried logging off and commenting anonymously myself.  Was harder than I anticipated!

I am going to tweak the comment functions a bit.. or try to... I'm an infant at this.   But if you've been having specific trouble leaving comments here at this blog please let me know.... 

I ought to be whipped!

Mr. Laplain let me open one of my birthday presents early, since I've been so whiny and difficult of late.  Tantrums!  They're not just for toddlers anymore!  Anyway, it was a book.  One I haven't been able to put down since.

Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano has been on my must read/must have list for a couple of years now.  She's one of several important Trans authors where I've read alot ABOUT her work but not nearly enough of what she has written herself.  She was the very first person I learned of to begin using the terms Cissexual, Cissexism.  Unfortunately, I did not immerse myself in the opportunity to learn exactly what she meant at that time... I simply accepted the common shorthand definition for those words to mean "Not Transsexual"  and "The type of oppression perpetrated by non-trans people against trans people).  

I'd read a few snippets of essays she had written here and there and found them empowering in context, but still I never actually sat and tried to take everything in she had to say nor apply it to my own experience of being trans.  After all, I've never tried to go anywhere near Michigan, let alone the Michigan Womyn's Music Fesitival and still to this day can't fully understand why so many transwomen have assigned so much political import to this Cissexist event. Not to mention Racist and Classist. (I have Cis lesbian friends of color.. I've heard things...). 

Of course,  I've never experienced being excluded from lesbian only spaces either, and I've tended to view the J Michael Bailey/Alice Dreger flap as a strictly academic upheaval.  These were all community struggles I fervently supported in spirit, but didn't really feel the effects of in my daily life one way or another.

So... MAN do I ever feel late to the party!!  WHIPPING GIRL should be required reading for everyone.  EVERYONE.  It is not without it's flaws, but it is to date the most straightforward and accessible explanation of the dynamics of discrimination and prejudice trans people face in society I've seen.

I can only  wonder... what if  we'd had this book back when I was just getting started some 20 years ago?  So many things I know I would never have done or said, stupid things because I was so busy trying to cater to the expectations of a cissexist society. So many  LGBT panels I sat on, not knowing wtf I was saying, just so glad somebody was willing to take me seriously as a transsexual, if not as a woman.    But then immediately feeling duped and exploited everytime someone in the audience or even on the PANEL would ask me incredibly personal details about my breasts, my figure, my makeup, my hair  right in front of everyone as if it were perfectly natural to do so.  Or ask me to go into detail about exactly when I "knew" what made me so sure, and at what age I started wearing my mother's clothes :

(ME: Umm... well actually, I never wore my mother's clothes.   My mother worked in a hospital. She wore scrubs and labcoats. She only wore makeup for special occasions. She only wore dresses and skirts once in a blue moon. Honestly, I think women who wear dresses all the time are kinda weird...  Like.. why...

[keep in mind, i was a teenager, so saying things like "No I'm not weird YOU'RE weird" was my idea of being 'progressive']

GUY AT CONFERENCE:  OOOooh.... did you have an older sister or other female relative you'd wear their clothes then?  You look so comfortable and natural at it.

ME:  A natural at what..? Wearing this t-shirt and jeans? 

GUY:  No no no you know what I mean.. you look very feminine.  I mean it as a compliment!!  You are very good at makeup. 

ME:  But ...I'm not wearing any makeup. 

THEM:  You're not?? Well now I really AM impressed!!....

 and so on...)

So many boneheaded words and phrases I used to use because I didn't have the tools to describe myself with anything other than cissexist terms.  Like how I used to say GG, or genetic girl to explain the difference between cissexual and transsexual females.    Even as I realized the vast majority of people never have their genes tested,  nor do chromosomes factor into our decision to use certain pronouns or whether to address someone as Mr. Miss or Ms.....

But I digress.  That was then.  This is now.  Right now I'm reading WHIPPING GIRL and I know I'm laughably tardy to the party, considering the crowd most likely to be reading this post, but if for some foolish reason you haven't read it yet either, RUN and do it as soon as you can.   Especially if you are CIS and wish to be able to speak somewhat intelligently about trans people's lives and the challenges we transfolk face just finding respectful language to articulate our very existence to you.

This post does not count as the long awaited post I've been promising in early entries.... That one's happening either later tonight or tomorrow, no worries.